The ecovillage model is a conscious response to the extremely complex problem of how to transform our human settlements, whether they be villages, towns or cities, into full-featured sustainable communities, harmlessly integrated into the natural environment.
The Findhorn Foundation is a founder member of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and is an NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information, working with intergovernmental agencies in educating and developing policy guidance for sustainable development and for delivery of village-scale sustainability programmes.
The Findhorn Ecovillage Project received Best Practice designation from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) in 1998.
There is today an increasingly urgent need for positive models that demonstrate how we can live well and sustainably on the earth. Ecovillages are one such model, exploring sustainable lifestyle not only in environmental but also in social, economic and spiritual terms.
Ecovillage principles can be applied equally to urban and to rural settings and to industrialised and non-industrialised countries. They address the need for participation in human-scale communities while nurturing and protecting the natural environment.
Ecovillages are communities with strong and vibrant social structures, united by common ecological, economic, social and spiritual values. Working with the simple principle of not taking more away from Earth than one gives back, ecovillages consciously work towards progressively reducing their ecological footprint. They do this by focusing on:
Ecovillages are the newest and most potent kind of intentional community. They unite two profound truths: human life is at its best in small, supportive, healthy communities and the only sustainable path for humanity is in the recovery and refinement of traditional community life.Dr Robert J Rosenthal, Professor of Philosophy, Hanover College
生态村是最新型、最有效的共识社区。生态村结合了两个深刻的真理：小型、互助、健康的社区是人类最好的生活方式；人类可持续发展的唯一道路就是恢复和完善传统的社区生活。汉诺威学院哲学教授 Robert J Rosenthal博士
The Findhorn Foundation has been known internationally since 1962 for its experiments with new models for holistic and sustainable living. Today it is at the heart of the largest intentional community in the UK and the centre of a rapidly developing ecovillage. Started in a caravan park in the northeast of Scotland, the Findhorn Foundation is a major center of adult education conducting programmes for approximately 3000 residential visitors a year form more than 50 countries. Cooperation and co-creation with nature has always been a major aspect of the Foundation’s work and from its earliest days it became well-known for its beautiful gardens grown in adverse conditions on the sand dunes of the Findhorn peninsula. Since 1981,the Findhorn foundation has been involved in developing the ecovillage as a natural continuation of its work with nature. A number of other organisations within the community work in partnership with the Foundation to help make the ecovillage a reality.
The ecovillage at Findhorn is a tangible demonstration of the links between the social, economic and spiritual aspects of life and is a synthesis the very best of current thinking on sustainable human settlements. It is a constantly evolving model providing solutions to human and social needs while at the same time working in partnership with the environment to offer an enhanced quality of life for today and for the future. As well as be involved with the construction of new buildings, the wind turbines and other physical projects, the “human scale” of the experiment has made community participation and involvement an integral part of the ecovillage. A rich and diverse social fabric has emerged within the Findhorn Foundation community over the four decades of its existence, and experiments with pay and remuneration, festivals and celebrations, decision-making, governance and leadership, and other aspects of community life, all contribute to the continued evolution of the ecovillage.
A study undertaken by GEN-Europe in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Research Centre (SDRC) and the Stockholm Environment Institute has found that the Findhorn Ecovillage has recorded the lowest-ever ecological footprint for any community in the industrialised world. Ecological footprinting is a tool to measure the consumption of resources and the creation of waste, and is increasingly relevant to the world of today where energy efficiency and sustainability are critical in our efforts to combat climate change. The ecovillage’s footprint is a fraction over half the national average, meaning that the average resident in the community consumes just one half of the resources and generates one half of the waste of the average citizen in the UK. The community has an especially small footprint in terms of energy use (21 percent of the national average) and food (38 percent of the national average).
We have erected 61 ecological buildings to date and there are ongoing plans for the continued construction of an ecologically respectful built environment. The ecovillage at Findhorn has developed a unique construction system, environmentally sound and energy efficient. Using natural and non-toxic materials we have developed a ‘breathing wall’ structure, which allows the fabric of a building to beneficially interact with people to moderate humidity and air quality. We have also experimented with straw bale construction, the ‘Earthship’ system using recycled car tyres, and remain open to further new and innovative ecological solutions for the built environment.
Renewable Energy Systems
Numerous homes and community buildings incorporate solar panels for hot water heating. A community company supplies panels to residential and commercial customers, both for new buildings and to retrofit existing buildings. Most new community buildings incorporate design features that invite passive solar radiation to reduce heating needs, such as south-facing windows and conservatories, and minimal wall openings on north walls. Sustainably harvested wood provides space heating for both new and older homes.
Our four wind turbines have a total capacity of 750KW and much of the electricity is used on-site on our private grid. Overall, we are net exporters of renewably produced electricity. Some smaller scale systems with photo-voltaic panels and ground-source heat pumps have been successfully implemented as well. We are also exploring various options for hybrid, electric and fuel-cell vehicles.
The guidelines for new buildings in the ecovillage encourage very high levels of insulation, and double- or triple-glazed windows with heat loss inhibiting window coatings. Architects are encouraged to incorporate energy efficiency considerations into every building design. Energy efficient light bulbs are installed in many residences, businesses and community buildings. We are continuing to research ways to match the electricity output of our wind turbines with the electricity requirements of community homes and villages. Energy running costs for newer houses are much more efficient than for our remaining caravans. Using solar, wind and wood, combined with highly energy-efficient features in our new buildings, the ecovillage now receives more than 30% of its total non-transportation energy from renewable resources. This percentage will continue to increase as fossil fuel systems are replaced with renewable energy heating.
Biological Waste Water Treatment
To improve the cycle of water use for the settlement, we have developed a phased plan for responsible water management. We built our own waste water management facility, completed in 1995, called the Living Machine. A technology developed by Dr John Todd, it uses natural non-chemical biological systems to clean our sewage and creates a mini-ecosystem within a greenhouse environment, mimicking nature’s own water cleaning system.
为改善居住地的水循环利用，我们制定了分阶段的计划，对水资源进行负责任的管理。1995年，我们建成了自己的污水处理设施，命名为“生命机器”（Living Machine）。我们使用了John Todd博士研发的技术，这一技术模仿自然环境下的水清洁系统，在温室环境中创造了一个微型生态体系，使用无化合物的自然生物系统清理污水。
We have implemented an extensive recycling programme (metal, glass, paper, batteries, and a clothing bank) and have been instrumental in encouraging local authorities to expand the range of recycling services to the local area.
Over the last 40 years the Findhorn Foundation Community has diversified into more than 60 different businesses and initiatives, providing a model of a vibrant, living local economy. Community businesses include:
Complementary Currency and LETS Scheme
LETS is an acronym for Local Exchange Trading System which allows trade in goods and services without the use of money. Members of the Findhorn Foundation and community along with people in the local area participate in two local LETS schemes, Findhorn and Kinloss LETS and New Moray LETS. The latter is currently the largest LETS scheme in Scotland.
LETS是本地交易和贸易系统的英文缩写，其作用是在不使用货币的情况下实现商品和服务的交易。芬虹基金会和社区成员以及本地居民目前使用两个本地交易系统，即Findhorn and Kinloss LETS 和 New Moray LETS。New Moray LETS是目前苏格兰最大的本地交易和贸易系统。
In 2002 we floated the Eko currency scheme, a local system of exchange. Using Ekos encourages trading with and between community business, reduces banking and interest charges, and provides community projects with access to low interest capital. The current issue supports the expansion of our wind turbine project and affordable housing ventures. Ekos are valued at par with sterling i.e. 1 Eko=₤1, and notes are in denominations of one, five, ten and twenty. Residents and guests visiting the community can purchase the notes and use them at participating community organisations. On average about ₤17,500 worth of Ekos are in circulation at any one time.
Inclusive Decision-Making processes
The New Findhorn Association (NFA) was created in 1999 to bring together the diverse organisations and people associated with the community within a 50 mile radius. The NFA has an elected voluntary council, but control of all aspects of the NFA’s affairs ultimately lies with the membership through democratic processes. The NFA employs two Listener Conveners whose job it is to take the pulse of the community, welcome new members, support organisations and businesses, empower grassroots members to take new initiatives and facilitate communication across the community.